Friday, December 13, 2013

Person of the Year?

Pope Francis was chosen by the magazine for his impact on the world and news in 2013.

First of all, I like it when a particular human being is the Time Person of the Year. Remember when "You" was awarded the designation in 2006? What was that about? And even The Protestor in 2011 didn't turn my crank. Just too broad.

Then again there have been far too many presidents. The war criminals including Hitler, Stalin, Kissinger (oops, did I write that?) may have been tremendously influential but I don't think they should get the recognition. There have been precious few women and Wallis Simpson was a dubious choice.

No doubt the same will be said for Pope Francis. He is the spiritual leader for a communion which is responsible for covering up sexual abuse harming countless thousands. The exclusion of women from leadership is a stubborn, non-biblical tragedy. I could go on.

But Francis is a good choice in my estimation. I believe that his compassion for the poor and marginalized is real. His commitment to the gospel imperative of simplicity is far greater than mine and I am chastened by his example. His surprising phone calls to those who have written him with problems is touching, I appreciate the way renegade RC theologian Hans Kung describes him:

It is astonishing how, from the first minute of his election, Pope Francis chose a new style: unlike his predecessor, no miter with gold and jewels, no ermine-trimmed cape, no made-to-measure red shoes and headwear, no magnificent throne.  Astonishing, too, that the new pope deliberately abstains from solemn gestures and high-flown rhetoric and speaks in the language of the people.

And finally it is astonishing how the new pope emphasizes his humanity: He asked for the prayers of the people before he gave them his blessing; settled his own hotel bill like anybody else; showed his friendliness to the cardinals in the coach, in their shared residence, at the official goodbye; washed the feet of young prisoners, including those of a young Muslim woman. A pope who demonstrates that he is a man with his feet on the ground.

Francis still says things that unsettle me as a liberal, Protestant Christian. But I suppose if I didn't protest pronouncements by a pope, I wouldn't be Protestant. He is a breath of fresh air who might become a full-blown gale in terms of change.

What do you think about this Time cover choice? What do you think about Pope Francis?


Unknown said...

I am impressed with his courage and his humility.

dmy said...

To Judy's comment....DITTO!

colinm said...

I remember Roncalli, pope John 23rd and the hope he instilled in us young catholic teens. Succesive popes undid just about every reform he instituted, and I joined the United Church.Is it posturing? Will the cardinals and bishops follow or just wait for him to pass on.